Category Archives: Anole Art, Literature, and Humor

Anolis proboscis: Ugly and Famous

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.

Photo by D. Luke Mahler

For Simon Watt, the author of “The Ugly Animals: We Can’t All Be Pandas”, the horned or Pinocchio anole, Anolis proboscis is ugly.




Perhaps an unfair title, but any press is good press isn’t it? A. proboscis (above, and featured many times on , such as here and here), is listed in the book as one of 60 animals, that are “ugly”, i.e., not as endearing as the Panda. The aim of the book is to highlight critically endangered animals that may not be adorably cute or beautiful, but nevertheless still entitled to our help and conservation efforts.

So next time you see a WWF poster advertising “Save the Panda”, spare a thought for the many other animals that need some love too.

Anole Celebration of Darwin’s Day

Happy Darwin’s day everybody!

Darwin Day

This is the third serial year in which I have remembered Darwin Day in Anole Annals. In the first time, Jonathan Losos made a wise comment in citing the words of Darwin about an anole (read his comment here). That’s why, this year, I have added two pages from ‘The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex’ in which Darwin wrote about the sexual selection of Anolis cristatellus and Sitana.


Continue reading Anole Celebration of Darwin’s Day

Short Film Featuring P. J. Darlington and Anolis sagrei

In a new film,  Anna Lindemann uses predation by Anolis sagrei  on a group of beetles to explore the evolution of Batesian mimicry. Anna combines her interests in biology, art, and music to produce animations and live productions that explore processes in developmental biology and evolution.

Anna’s newest release, titled “Beetle Bluffs,” is inspired by the observations of biologist P. J. Darlington. Darlington might be most familiar to blog readers as the namesake for the Haitian anole, A. darlingtoni. In 1938, Darlington published a brief series of experiments examining the consumption of beetles with differing color patterns by A. sagrei. He concluded that Batesian mimicry was likely occurring, in which the color patterns of the inedible Thonalmus beetles are mimicked by several other edible beetle species in order to avoid predation. “Beetle Bluffs” combines stop-motion animation and archival material from Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology to bring life to this story. Enjoy!

Darlington, PJ. 1938. Experiments on mimicry in Cuba, with suggestions for future study. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 87: 681-695.

A Beatlesque Song about Lizards in Love

You must click on this link and listen to the song (click the red circle in the upper left corner of the page). Then come back here and read the rest.

Anole In Love – The song the Beatles would have written if they were green anoles! This lovely ballad is the work of Monty Harper, who writes: “I write songs that convey what I find awesome about science: the questions, the methods, the passion, dedication, and creativity of the people who do it. My inspiration comes from speaking directly with scientists about their latest research projects.”

This has Top 40 written all over it, all it needs to do is get produced. Help make it happen by going to Monty’s Kickstarter page and making a donation. But, hurry–the deadline is Friday.

Anole Photo Contest 2013–Time To Vote!

Book Review: The Symbol, The Spectacularly Beautiful And Varied Lizards Of Ibiza


I’ve just finished reading The Symbol, the spectacular new book by Dappen, Losin, and Pérez-Mellado on the Ibiza wall Lizard, Podarcis pityusensis. We’ve already discussed in these pages the exploits of the first two authors, Ph.D.’s-turned-filmmakers who have already produced some exceptional science documentaries, most with a lizard focusAnd we helped advertise their ultimately successful effort to crowd-source funding for their trip to the Pityusic Archipelago to produce the book. As a result, we saw the spectacular photos and videos they posted along the way, as the project was in progress. For all of these reasons, we had high expectations for the ensuing volume.

Slide36And now The Symbol has arrived, and our expectations have been vastly exceeded. In a word, the book is fabulous, or should we say “fabuloso, fabelhaft, favoloso” because the book is simultaneously written in English, Spanish, German and Italian? At first pass, what grabs attention are the photographs, which are amazing. Of course, with a resplendent species like Podarcis pityusensis to work with, the Day’s Edge team had good material with which to work, but they’ve made the most of it. The photos are lustrous, exquisite, sharp and beautifully framed.

But what was so unexpected is the fascinating evolutionary pageant put on by these lizards. We had no idea that they were so extraordinarily diverse, exhibiting dramatically different colors manifest over small geographic distances.




Check out the geographic distribution of the different color forms, 23 of which are recognized as distinct subspecies. Truly extraordinary.


The authors comprehensively review the natural history and evolutionary diversity of these lizards, explaining in a way that will be captivating to a general audience. Ibiza is a world-renowned tourist destination, and the Ibizans love their local lizards, so this book will no doubt be of great value to locals and tourists alike, and doubtless will educate a wide audience.

Yet, the book also holds value to the seasoned herpetologist. The discussion of the biology of this species is thorough and first-rate, and the photos capture in unusually vivid detail many important aspects of their ecology and behavior.



Anole biologists, the challenge has been thrown down. Dappen and colleagues have shown what a fabulous book looks like. Our lizards are equally enticing and photogenic–let’s see a book on a Caribbean anole!



Anole Sculpture

IMG_2598IMG_2599On our recent field trip to Mexico, we were joined by AA contributor Ramon E. Martinez-Grimaldo. Ramon kindly gave me this lovely sculpture of Anolis sagrei. It’s the nicest anole sculpture I’ve ever seen! It’s made of resin and the artist is Luis Ivan Huerta. Check out his website;  in the section “dermoplastias,” he put a picture of the anole’s sculpture. Perhaps Luis will see this post and tell us whether it’s possible to order other anole creations!

Beautiful New Book On Mediterranean Wall Lizards: Buy It At Discount

A year ago, we reported on the project by lizard film-makers extraordinare Neil Losin and Nate Dappen, the Day’s Edge team, to produce a film and book on the beautiful lacertid lizards on the island of Ibiza. The book is about to be published and by all accounts is gorgeous. Here’s your chance to order it at a pre-publication discount. Now, if they’d only get back to their anoline roots and do the same for even prettier lizards!

Evolution 2013: Anolologist Diet

As students of anole biology, we are interested in anoles’ ecological relationships, including what they eat (which apparently includes fingers!). But what do anolologists eat? At the Evolution 2013 meetings, ably covered by Jonathan Losos and Martha Munoz in a series of informative posts from the anole point of view, I was able to obtain photographic evidence. The foraging seems optimal.

Jon Losos at Evolution 2013, displaying food item.

Jon Losos at Evolution 2013, displaying food item.

Evolution 2013: Best Tattoo Features Anolis Proboscis

proboscis tattooxThe just concluded evolution meetings in Snowbird, UT featured many highlights, but surely none more sensational than this fantastic tattoo adorning the arm of Tulane graduate student Justin Yeager. Justin, whose very cool research focuses on poison arrow frogs, bioluminescent millipedes and mantisflies, assures that a space is reserved on his other arm for a lady proboscis, which as we all know is hornless.

Word on the street is that there are some other very cool anole tattoos out there. Photos welcome!

In Search Of A Collective Noun For Anoles

Is this an embarrassment of anoles? Image from

Is this an embarrassment of anoles? Image from

For natural history students, professionals and enthusiasts some of the most entertaining, albeit fairly useless, facts are the collective nouns used to describe a group of organisms. From taxon to taxon, collective nouns are literary (a murder of crows), descriptive (a prickle of porcupines or a sneak of weasels), mundane (a shoal of sticklebacks), and even absurd (an aurora of polar bears).

When I first read the headline of Jonathan’s latest dispatch to the New York Times Scientist at Work blog, An Embarrassment of Anoles, I briefly thought that anoles had their very own collective noun. But alas, I was wrong and a group of anoles isn’t (yet) referred to as an embarrassment.

In a quick flurry of googling I found words for groups of various amphibians and reptiles: crocodiles (bask), cobras (quiver), iguanas (mess), frogs (knot), toads (knot), salamanders (congress) and lizards (lounge), to name a few. But nothing for anoles!

Does anyone know of a collective noun for anoles or, failing that, have a suggestion?

Oliver The Overachieving Anole.


I previously mentioned this book, but through the kindness of author Karin Mesa, I can report on the contents of Oliver the Overachiever. This fine children’s book details the lifestyle of non-conforming independent thinking Oliver, who from the day of his hatching, insisted  on doing things his way. Needless to say, the conservatives were against change, worrying–correctly–about the threats posed by housecats. But Oliver persevered and eventually triumphs, bringing great joy to the anole masses.

This is a fine message to send to young readers. The drawings are full of whimsy and the book is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards in the category “Children’s Picture Books (Suitable For Ages Birth To 9)” and Preferred Choice Award of the Creative Toy Awards 2011. Apparently, this may be the first of many in the Oliver series and, who knows, maybe they’ll span a movie. You can learn more about Karin’s artistic diversity at her website.


How The Bearded Anole Got Its Name

Anolis pogus. Photo from Wildlife of St. Martin.

The resemblance is uncanny

The diminutive A. pogus of St. Martin is sometimes referred to as the bearded anole. Since anoles lack hair, facial or otherwise, one might wonder where the name comes from. In fact, Mark Yokoyama explains on his Wildlife of St. Martin site, the name is a misnomer, a misguided translation of the specific epithet pogus. Rather than being derived from the Greek pogos, the name is a reference to the cartoon character Pogo the possum! Who else would be behind this than AA faithful Skip Lazell? Anyone have any other favorite anole scientific names?

Axolotl and Curt Coonors research

The Dream Of Curt Connors Could Become Real Thanks To A Mexican God

Axolotl and Curt Coonors researchI read a recent news about “The secret to running repairs” and I remembered an older AA post about a hypothetical genetic biologist who researched the ability of certain reptiles to regrow missing limbs, partially to find a way to regrow his own missing arm.

Today, his noble research could be real thanks to a Mexican god. Yeah, the Axolotl, who according to the Aztec myth is a god transformed on a neotenic salamander with the hope that their ability to regenerate body parts will one day help people with amputations.

The Axolotl has become the amphibian prefered by many scientists around the world thanks to its capacity to regenerate both their hurt limbs as well as its jaw, skin, organs and even parts of the brain and the spinal cord. And to top things off, it doesn’t get cancer.

Scientists believe that it will only take a decade or two before the dream of Curt Connors could became a reality: the human limbs could regenerate like the axolotl.

I’m very excited for this news that I believe I forgot the anoles for a little moment.

Sharing A Cold One On St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

A thirsty Anolis cristatellus shares an El President at Cruz Bay, St. John

A thirsty Anolis cristatellus shares an El President at Cruz Bay, St. John

A thirsty Anolis cristatellus checks out Candee's El Presidente at Cruz Bay.

A thirsty Anolis cristatellus checks out Candee’s El Presidente at Cruz Bay.

Those of us lucky enough to be working in the Dominican Republic know the pleasures of downing an ice-cold El Presidente at the end of a session of fieldwork. Fortunately for us, that pleasure has been extended to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and was recently shared by a little Anolis cristatellus near the ferry landing at Cruz Bay, St. John. The young lady sharing her drink is Candee Ellsworth, Conservation Coordinator at the Toledo Zoo.

What Would Have Happened If Darwin Had Discovered The Anoles Of The Greater Antilles Instead Of The Galapagos Finches?

Maybe the classic Darwin evolutionary tree would…

Anoles evolutionary tree in Darwin DayPrincipal image modified from Alföldi et al.

What do you think about the hypothetical case?


Suggested reading:

Darwin’s Lizards: like Galapagos’ finches, anoles of the Greater Antilles have proved to be eminently adaptable. By Jonathan B. Losos and Kevin de Queiroz.

The genome of the green anole lizard and a comparative analysis with birds and mammals. By Jessica Alföldi et al.

Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree. Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles. By Jonathan B. Losos.

It is time for a new classification of anoles (Squamata: Dactyloidae). By Kirsten E. Nicholson et al.

Pages about Darwin Day:

International Darwin Day Foundation

Darwin Day » British Humanist Association

Educational sources:

Anolis Lizards of the Greater Antilles: Using Phylogeny to Test Hypotheses. By Jennifer (Johnson) Collins.

Anolis Ecomorph Visualization App

This another post about Darwin Day:

A Poem About Anolis Orcesi

Not quite sure what to make of this, so I thought I’d throw it out to the AA readership. Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote several posts about a field expedition to Ecuador to study the phenacosaur, A. orcesi. Recently, the blog posted this: “Poonam absolutely delighted me with his poem: This poem is inspired by the traalivs of searching for the elusive Phenacosaurus orcesi during a trip to Baeza, Ecuador last summer:The phenacosaur awakens from dreams of juicy prey,The volcano Antisana shines brightly in the day.Perched on a twig, he rests safely assured,“Those silly humans don’t know what they’re looking for!”Skirting the road edges with trucks whizzing by,No lizards in sight, oh! how time doth fly.Binoculars in hand and scanning the brush,The orcesi are hidden in the leaves so lush.The day slips by till the moon rises high,The time for finding an orcesi is nigh.Alack! Alas! A lizard in sight!But it’s only A. fitchii, try as we might.

Ah yes, the elusive Phenacosaurus Orcesi. I know it well, having once made battle with the beast in the depraved depths of an Irish glen (Pheancosaurus can only live in depravity, so therefore the glen must have been depraved, yay logic!). And now two times are nigh, that of Jesus and of finding the elusive (and depraved) Orcesi. Perhaps there is a connection?”

Thoughts, anyone?

In Your Dreams! The Far Reach Of Anole Annals

An AA reader writes: “Last night I dreamed about you and the anole annals.  You had announced that you were seeking discounts at hotel chains for anole workers and said that you’d arranged a 10% discount for anole workers at Best Westerns.”

Is the truth stranger in fiction? Will the discount really be 20%? We’ll soon be producing the Anole Annals subscriber discount cards. Stay tuned for details.